Philadelphia has long been acknowledged as the capital of rowhouses in the United States. It’s becoming more common for those rowhouses to be referred to as rowhomes.
If you’re like me you’ve accidentally used the word “rowhouse” incorrectly in conversation with a resident of Philadelphia. Residents of Philadelphia takes great pride in their rowhouse, and for good reason. The city even launched a “Healthy Rowhouse Project” [pdf] in 2014 and published a rowhouse design manual in 2008 [pdf]. In Philadelphia, the distinctions regarding rowhouses matter, and the term is constantly at risk of conflation with a host of other terms, such as rowhome, townhome, townhouse, and brownstone.
It should come as some relief, then, that Jordan Levy has written an article for BillyPenn that clarifies the key distinctions. It seems that need has never been more pressing:
A review of local media and city government usage shows both overwhelmingly choose “rowhouse” these days, and plenty of Philadelphians join them. But conversational use of “rowhome” abounds — and some feel very strongly about their chosen term.
To help clarify matters, Levy provides a glossary of terms like bandbox, the London house, the city house, and the townhouse, before turning attention to the critical distinction: rowhome vs. rowhouse.
“So, rowhouses are rowhomes, which can be townhouses in some cases and brownstones in others.” There you go.
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